North America

33 million birds culled so far in North America

Hygiene & Biosecurity

Bird flu is threatening the poultry sector in both Canada and the US.

Posted on Apr 28 ,07:35

33 million birds culled so far in North America

Bird flu is taking a toll on the poultry sector in North America, as the disease is spreading fast to vast areas. The first case was reported in November 2021 in Canada and since then the disease has spread to other regions, impacting large commercial farms. 33 million birds were culled in Canada and the US since the outbreak started and farmers are worry that their business may be endangered. The virus is carried by wild birds and researchers have so far documented infections in 51 species, including bald eagles and great horned owls. That’s more than twice the number of species known to have been infected during the last North American HPAI outbreak, in 2014–15, according to Science magazine. That’s a fear shared by researchers and poultry farmers across North America, who in recent weeks have been urgently documenting and trying to contain the continent’s largest outbreak of HPAI.
Now there is a constant worry that the virus may spread south. "People in Central America and South America really need to be awarethat this virus is likely to arrive on their doorstep—if it hasn’t already," said Thijs Kuiken, an avian influenza expert at Erasmus University Rotterdam. In Europe, the disease is already endemic, with cases in wild bird population constantly reported for the last two years. "Is not something that is going to go away anytime soon,” says Arjan Stegeman, a veterinary epidemiologist at Utrecht University.
Genetic analyses of the virus suggest introductions to farms are coming primarily from nearby wild birds. In contrast, US researchers believe that during the 2014–15 outbreak of H5N8 humans often accidentally moved the virus from farm to farm.

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